Application filed to rejuvenate Red Roost and Red Rest cottages and build condo complex

The current conditions of the Red Roost and Red Rest cottages on Coast Boulevard in La Jolla.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

After decades of neglect and more than a year after a fire caused heavy damage, an application has been filed with the city of San Diego to rehabilitate La Jolla’s Red Rest and Red Roost cottages and build a condominium complex near them.

The application, posted on the site of the cottages at 1187 and 1179 Coast Blvd., reads that applicant Alcorn & Benton Architects seeks site development and coastal development permits to build a new four-story, eight-unit condo building with an underground parking garage and to “rehabilitate two historically designated cottages for commercial use” at that site.

According to the preliminary application, the scope of work would include rehabilitation of the two cottages “to usable condition with modifications to provide for modern commercial uses [and] reconstruction of missing historic features.” The project also calls for “relocation of structures onsite to accommodate the construction of a new residential condominium building and podium with underground parking.”

The cottages “will be moved forward closer to the property line,” the application states. “A ramp access to the underground parking will be located at the farthest northwesterly corner of the property.”

Applicant and La Jolla architect Paul Benton could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Red Rest cottage, which was destroyed by fire in October 2020, is to be reconstructed to match documented features of the property, including the roof dimensions and height, glazing, the brick chimney, painted wood siding and associated detailing, the doors and windows and more.

The adjacent Red Roost will be reconstructed as needed, according to the application. Plans include removing a metal ventilation duct, rebuilding the roof framing, replacing existing glazing with clear glass, replacing deteriorated and lost outlookers (a roof feature), reconstructing the brick chimney and more.

For both cottages, plans include using as much reclaimed brick as possible and saving any that’s unused.

The Red Roost and Red Rest cottages are pictured after a fire in October 2020 destroyed Red Rest.
The Red Roost and Red Rest cottages are pictured after a fire in October 2020 destroyed Red Rest.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Details about the planned condo complex were not immediately available.

The Red Rest and Red Roost, built in 1894 for George Leovy and Dr. Joseph Fishburn, are considered The Village’s oldest structures. However, they have been virtually unmaintained for three decades in what preservationists have called “demolition by neglect.”

After almost 50 years of private ownership and holdings transfers, the cottages were acquired in 2014 by Denver-based Apartment Investment and Management Co. In 2018, AIMCO sold the cottage property and the adjacent La Jolla Cove Hotel & Suites to a group of investors in the hotel business.

Then, early Oct. 26, 2020, Red Rest burned down and Red Roost was damaged. At the time of the fire, the cottages were uninhabited and covered by protective tarps. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s Metro Arson Strike Team investigators called the cause of the blaze “undetermined.” The estimated damage to the structures was $175,000.

The two cottages, which have been on the San Diego, California and national historic registers since the 1970s, are credited with being “La Jolla’s oldest buildings on their original site,” according to Heath Fox, former executive director of the La Jolla Historical Society.

They “represent the Arts and Crafts vernacular of construction in La Jolla’s early period [and] were a prototype to the California bungalow style that grew to be so prominent in the 20th century,” Fox said at the time of the fire. “And their proximity to the Pacific Ocean all contributes to what makes them historically important.”

The project will have to undergo a review of compliance with the city’s historic resources regulations and other reviews. One city planner told the La Jolla Light that the permit process could take months or years, depending on the questions raised by staff in various city departments. The project also will undergo a hearing at the San Diego Planning Commission. ◆